The Minnesota Attorney General's Office has settled its second lawsuit with a major telecoms provider in as many weeks, after accusing them of deceptive pricing practices.
AG Keith Ellison announced Wednesday that Comcast/Xfinity has agreed to offer refunds to 15,600 Minnesota customers, and provide debt relief for a further 16,000. Between the two, the settlement totals millions of dollars.
It comes after the AG's office reached a similar agreement with CenturyLink for similar practices.
The suit was filed in the last month of former AG Lori Swanson's tenure, in December 2018, alleging Comcast was charging Minnesotans more than promised for cable services, including undisclosed "fees" that the AG's office says it "used to bolster its profits."
It also charged for services and equipment that customers didn't ask for.
The suit also settles the AG's claim that Comcast had offered prepaid gift cards as an inducement for people to sign up for multi-year contracts, only for the cards to never materialize.
"Part of being able to afford your life means knowing the full cost of what you’re getting, getting what you were promised, not being overcharged for things you didn’t ask for, and not being unfairly charged to get rid of things you didn’t ask for. But when people signed up for Comcast, that’s what happened to them,” Attorney General Ellison said.
"This settlement will help put money back in Comcast’s customers’ pockets where it should have been in the first place. Just as importantly, it provides millions of dollars’ worth of debt relief. And we’ve made sure that going forward, Comcast customers will know exactly how much they’ll pay for service before they sign up for it. That should put an end to unpleasant surprises."
Comcast will issue refunds to those who didn't receive prepaid gift cards between Jan. 1, 2013 and July 1, 2017, as well as those who downgraded their cable services – or who were cut off by Comcast – and we charged an early termination fee between June 1, 2015 and July 1, 2017.
Also getting refunds are those who were charged for a modem but returned it within three months without changing their cable and internet package.
The 15,600 refunds total $1.14 million.
Comcast will send a claim form to eligible consumers and provide a refund check within 60 days after the claims period has closed.
Minnesotans that Comcast overcharged at any time since 2013 can complete a contact form on the Attorney General’s website.
In a statement, Comcast said: "Today’s settlement with the Minnesota Attorney General reflects our ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience.
"While we disagree with the allegations initially made in the lawsuit – which do not reflect our policies and practices – we agreed to settle because we are committed to partnering with Attorney General Ellison and others who share our commitment to improving the experience of our customers in all respects. We believe this settlement agreement furthers that shared goal."